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Kendall Co. to 11 board members: pay us back : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Kendall Co. to 11 board members: pay us back
Repayment sought for mileage, per diems billed in error

by Matt Schury


Demand letters will soon be going out to Kendall County Board members asking them to compensate the county for meeting per diems and associated mileage reimbursements billed to the county in error from 2008 to 2012.

The Kendall County Board's Ad Hoc Per Diem Committee agreed Tuesday night to have Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis issue the letters to begin collection actions against the 11 former and current board members named in a forensic audit almost two years ago.

The exact amount of money the committee is asking for, and what each board member owes, has not been announced. However, the committee decided Tuesday to take action on 15 of the 23 types of violations found in the independent forensic audit.

The committee, chaired by Amy Cesich, includes Lynn Cullick, Judy Gilmour, Scott Gryder and Matthew Prochaska. The five members reviewed each of the 23 counts in a four hour meeting.

All of the committee members agreed the county should be reimbursed for most of the violations before them.

Before voting on the violations, Gilmour said that she would have liked to know the names and amounts the board members owed. Cullick said the system the county uses to collect per diems is "broken" and needs to be fixed.

The investigation involves 11 County Board members including current board members John Purcell, Dan Koukol, Jeff Wehrli, Elizabeth Flowers and Chairman John Shaw as well as former board members Bob Davidson, Suzanne Petrella, Anne Vickery Jessie Hafenrichter, Nancy Martin and Pam Parr.

Weis said that each of the board members who will be getting the letters will see how much they owe and why they owe that amount to the county. They will also have the opportunity to defend what they claimed.

At the beginning of the meeting Weis said that the audit included over 500 meeting claims that fell into one of the 23 categories. Board members receive an $85 per diem for attending meetings plus mileage reimbursement if they claim it.

Weis said each of the issues dealt with a discrepancy, in how, when, where or why board members claimed per diems and mileage for attending meetings. Issues also dealt with the types of meetings for which board members were seeking reimbursement. Some of the issues addressed a lack of information on vouchers regarding the meetings that were attended, as well as a lack of proof that some members attended meetings for which they were paid.

Violations and issues the committee said they would like to see the county compensated for include double billing the county for attendance at one meeting; no meeting existed and/or no agenda or record of meeting was found but a voucher was submitted for per diem payment; committee meetings where County Board chairman submitted a voucher for attendance but was not authorized to be paid for that committee meeting per the Kendall County Board Rules of Order.

Other per diem compensation issues that will appear in the demand letters include board members' attendance at a second meeting in one day; board members already submitting a voucher and collecting per diem for attendance at another meeting on the same day and attendance as an alternate at a meeting when no alternate was needed to reach a quorum.

The committee also felt it was appropriate that the county be reimbursed when a board member collected a per diem and a meeting was recorded and agenda was posted, but the board member was not recorded as attending the meeting.

The letters will also demand that some board members reimburse the county for claiming a per diem for attendance at a meeting, training, seminar or open house authorized by the County Board chairman but where no written documentation and/or no intent from County Board chairman for the member to receive a per diem.

Other issues the committee said they wanted the county to be compensated for included attendance at meetings with county employees, legal counsel and/or elected officials as well as claiming per diems for attendance at internal trainings, open houses, and/or seminars.

The group also approved a return of compensation in cases where board members voluntarily attended outside entity meetings concerning projects, funding, etc., that may affect the county but the county will not take action on; attendance at meetings of an outside entity but the board member was never appointed by the County Board as a representative for that meeting.

Members who claimed attendance at interviews with applicants for employment will have to reimburse the county, as will those who claimed per diems for attendance at training, conferences and seminars both county sponsored or outside of the county. Lastly, board members who submitted vouchers but did not list a specific meeting (e.g., "Round planning") on a voucher entry will have to reimburse the county, according to action by the committee.

They will also ask for reimbursement from members who claimed per diems for attendance at a county meeting which the board member was not required to attend.

Reimbursement not
sought on some issues

Eight issues and violations the committee considered seeking reimbursement for failed to gain enough votes Tuesday to require reimbursement.

One violation that failed to pass the committee involved board members not signing vouchers when turning them into the treasurer's office. The issue involved compensation when payments were made without signatures on vouchers and/or when no vouchers were submitted. Weis said an example of this involved board members emailing their vouchers.

Another violation the committee voted not to seek compensation for involved board members authorized to attend a meeting by the County Board.

The committee also voted against seeking reimbursement in cases where a board member's attendance at a meeting of an outside entity, if that member has an official appointment to the outside entity, is uncertain. For example, if there is no written record of attendance for that member at that specific meeting, no roll call, no documentation supporting member's attendance at outside entity's meeting (e.g., outside entity is not required to maintain minutes for meetings) and no other written proof of board member's attendance at that meeting.

A motion to ask for reimbursement for attendance at grievance hearings and attendance at union negotiations failed.

Other motions that failed to get approval to seek reimbursement included attendance at ad hoc committee meetings where there is no documentation to establish how the ad hoc committee was created, the purpose for the ad hoc committee, proof that the committee still exists, and/or documentation of the meeting recordings/minutes.

Another motion that failed would have asked for reimbursement for per diems paid for attendance at meetings for outside organizations (memberships statutorily required, county required, or required by inter-governmental agreement) where documentation to prove board member's attendance was not available.

Another motion that failed, at the end of the lengthy meeting, would have requested board members reimburse their per diems submitted on vouchers with the purpose of meeting simply stating the outside location, but no description, reason for attendance, and/or meeting name included.

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